Marvin the Album [Mammoth]

by: Frente!

Marvin the Album is one of those recordings that cannot be fully absorbed on the first or second listen. But after several listens, one starts to realize just how strong this abstract pop-folk-rock release is. With a quirky and waifish vocal style along the lines of Suzanne Vega, lead singer Angie Hart can take a bit of getting used to. Her singing is definitely an acquired taste, but it's a taste well worth it. The more one listens to Frente!'s strange acoustic cover of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle," as well as subtle originals like "Explode," "Pretty Friend," and "Lonely," the more one realizes how expressive and appealing she is. Guitarist Simon Austin, meanwhile, handles most of the vocals on "See/Believe," which sounds like a bizarre cross between jazz and Bob Dylan. Frente! isn't a band that stresses the obvious, and the Australians use subtlety and understatement to great advantage on this striking date. [Originally released by White Records in Australia in 1992, the album was reissued in 1994 by Mammoth. This more widely available reissue features a different track sequencing and the addition of an excellent cover of "Bizarre Love Triangle," making the Mammoth edition preferable.] ~ Alex Henderson

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